Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I am late because...uh uh....

What are you looking at? Get to work!
CareerBuilder lists some reasons employees have used for being tardy.

Ooops--can't use these now! Got ya!

Thirty-five percent of employers in one survey have fired people for being late.

Traffic is a biggie. Nearly a quarter of employees get held up by it each month. Fifteen percent once a week.

Okay, the excuses...

A zebra was running down the highway. (True, it turned out.)

Woke up on the lawn a few doors down.

Cat got stuck in the toilet.

Could not eat breakfast because there was no milk, had to get some.

Superglue in the eye instead of contact lotion (good grief, who hasn't done that?)

Thought Halloween was a holiday.

Hole in the roof--wet alarm clock--did not go off.

Forgot the company's new address.

Scared by a nightmare.

That last sort of happened to me. I was reading a Stephen King book, I called in sick to finish it, then was too scared to stay home. When I got to work, my assistants said, "But we thought you were sick..."

"Miracle,"  I muttered.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pity the poor college student

Melissa Korn, WSJ, Sept 4, 2014, writes about some sociologists who studied college students and how they are doing.

Their 2011 book is called Academically Adrift.

Ew, that doesn't sound good.

They looked at 1,600 students during college and 1,000 after for two years.

Of the students ho did not go into grad school, only slightly more than 1/4th made $40,000 or more two years after graduating. Three-fourths still relied somewhat on Mom and Dad.

The two say colleges give kids an unrealistic view of what it takes to achieve their goals.

They think it does pay to go to college, but people should ask whether the particular college is a value for the time and money.

Too much emphasis is put on the social side. Many students surveyed did not develop critical thinking skills--or the ability to write.

Yet, they do not consider this a lost generation. Of course, the richer kids can spend their twenties "finding themselves." The poorer can't, leading to a wider wage gap.

Colleges, they say, need to teach kids how to think--how to question--how to rethink in a different context. And of course--teach subject matter. Remember that? Chemistry, physics, educational theory, that stuff?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Seniors--money-making opportunities

No, I do not mean scams against seniors, though plenty of low-lifes think they are dandy marks.

I mean businesses you can get into to serve and help seniors. (I hate the word senior, do you?)

We have plenty around--8,000 Boomers a day hit 65.

How about the Merry Maid business?

Or caring for the aging? My mother was in two private care homes in AZ--accredited by the State--residents lived with the family--ate with the family--and were watched over constantly. Someone held my mother's arm every time she stood up. For this, they got north of $3000 a month.

There are also franchises devoted to older citizens. In a May 2014 report, the Franchise Business Review says the initial investment to open a care franchise is $101,000--with an income of $95,000ish.

Boomers themselves tend to open these.

Another winner can be handyman services.

Like any business, you need to do a lot of research--but the customers are there.

My only half-facetious idea is Valet Cat--cute guys in shorts who bring heavy kitty litter to your car. Now THERE is a business.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Companies playing down their green message

Amy Westervelt, WSJ, Aug 25, 2014, says the lust for enviro-friendly products is less than it was.

In fact, the green message can stir up hostility.

Instead of their sustainable ingredients (plants--you can grow more), they play up the performance of the product (softer skin etc).

Souring on this aspect came with the economic downturn, apparently.

Many people feel guilty for not pursuing these products the more they learn about them.

Such companies are now concentrating on how their manufacturing cuts waste or even using humor.

People feel less guilty if you aren't so darn serious about your superiority.

I am that way--I rebel against dopey oils from Lower Slobovia and super butters and so on.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good news for the flesh-blessed

Could be even Lane Bryant, long notorious for dowdy maternity-like tops with rickrack, is branching out into "cute" and chic.

Designer Sophie Theallet not only designs for the bony set, but also is doing some "plus" for Lane Bryant.

According to a story in the WSJ by Christina Binkley Sept 10, 2014, this has led her to an appreciation of the larger, curvier palette--and she is making larger sizes for her own line.

At first, she said, she was shy about casting larger models for lingerie. But these models, all soft and feminine, want the work and aren't shy.

So, yay, Sophie!

By the way, I don't get the X thing. 2X, 3X--what is this--times? Like "two times Courtney Cox"?

Also, doesn't X mean "sexy"? Of course it does.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to talk your way out of being fired

Rachel Feintzeig, WSJ, Sept 10, 2014, writes about a top exec who was almost fired and how he dodged the bullet.

He said the magic words are "I can change."

But--before you say that--you have to completely encompass and acknowledge the feedback--even think up more. "Oh, I see I didn't do X, but I also think I didn't do ABC."

This guy also cried--bringing in human emotion. He says it showed how much he cared about the job.

He basically said give me 90 days. I can change. If I haven't--I will fire myself.

Then he tried to figure what his successor would do and he did it.

Sounds easy, huh?

I dunno on the crying.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Buying a franchise not the snap it once was

Ready-made business--name recognition, supplies, management help...all for a price. According to Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, Aug 25, 2104, though, this route to being in business is getting bumpier.

It's harder to find out what's what--and once you buy in, harder to get leverage.

Franchisers are not required to share key info beforehand.

There is no central regulator.

Disclosure documents are more complicated.

The bad economy has caused franchisers to "stretch the truth" about what franchisees can expect.

The agreements you do sign are more stringent. Class action suits and actions, for example, can be forbidden.

Check with the International Franchise Assn--and also the franchise's Facebook, Yelp, and Linked In profiles and comments.

Take your time--this is big money--going out, anyhow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Want to be more creative--get a pooch

Pet ownership is at an all-time high. A 2012 survey showed that owning a pet is better for your social life than networking sites.

Pet ownership also opens markets for services--and goods (such as delish-looking pet food).

And now--ta da--evidence that dog ownership increases your creativity. For one thing, petting an animal lowers blood pressure.

Check out Dogs Rule Nonchalantly by Mark Ulriksen. This dude loves dogs--and draws them constantly. That's creative, right?

In fact, dog faces and bodies vary more than humans' do, he says. Just ears alone. Or their noses.

Also he does  not have to flatter dogs.

And dogs keep you company while you spew out good ideas, drawings, patents, etc., and sometimes don't even wake up while being so inspiring.

I miss having a dog.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Could you swim in The Shark Tank?

Kevin Brass, WSJ, Aug 25, 2014, talks about what it takes to brace down those mean investors in the TV show The Shark Tank. Ever seen it? Entrepreneurs bring their show-and-tell and try to convince someone on a panel of investors to toss them some money.

Mark Cuban of BB fame is, to me, the biggest smugbag--but they all are, really. Tough room.

God forbid you don't have your ducks in a row when the investors start grilling. How is your idea different? How many hits has your site had? Why so few orders then? This is nothing new--what's new about it?

The poor would-be business person stands there and tries to respond. So the first advice is Stand Up Straight. Look confident, authoritative.

Get right to the point. Don't start with, "I was eight months pregnant when I wondered how I would protect my baby's little knees while crawling..."

Forget jargon like "burn rate"--keep it simple.

Show why YOU can do it--the business plan, the experience, the track record, the instinct.

Show you are tough--if you failed and revamped or tried something else, admit it.

Don't be greedy and ask for too much you can't deliver. Also--if they offer the money you want for a bigger share, don't dismiss it out of hand.

Show how the business can grow--and be "scaled."

And don't beg. If they don't chomp, thank them and leave.

Oh--this applies to all ven cap meetings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Are you a person of habit?

I used to eat Top Ramen for lunch everyday until I read it has some crud in it that kills ya. I am still here, but why tempt fate?

I often feel like I am in a rut.

Then I read a feature in the pretentious WSJ, a tony mag sent out by the Wall Street Journal, which by the way, I can no longer afford so expect material from other places. I can't describe this tony thing--black and white atmospheric pix where you can't even see the somber menswear, storky gals splayed out with their unlikely gams askew....almost creepy.

Anyhow they have a feature where they ask some people they consider celebs about things and this time it was about their "habits."

Jeff Koons (artist). Gets to work the same time, leaves the same time. Eats the same amount of pistachios and Cheerios and Zone Bars each day. Exact right proportion of carbs, protein, and fats.

Paloma Picasso (daughter of and jewelry designer). She travels to "step out" of habit. She works lying on the floor or in a plane. Has a special perfume but sometimes changes it up.

Thomas Keller (chef). Naturally habitual, he says. Likes repetition--allows him to think of other things.

Audra McDonald (actor). Playing Billie Holiday on Broadway--a person with bad habits. Spritzes gin on hself to "feel" drunk. Billie Holiday, for her part, never sang a song the same way twice.

Michael Kors (fashion designer). Drinks iced tea all day no matter what the season. Stays in the same room in London. But also will hare off and do something new.

Maria Sharapova (tennis). As an athlete has to eat and sleep consistently. But no two matches are the same and must adapt.

So there you are--with all their money and freedom--if they had ever heard of Top Ramen, some of them might get into it for life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Read employment contract--I mean, really, do it

Writing in the Business Insider, Emmie Martin warns about contracts. Like house papers, people tend to look these over with a sage expression and nod.

I never had a contract back in the day, so there is that.

Anyhow, the "noncompete" areas can limit you at your next job--or who you can hire. If you don't go over these coming in--leaving is too late.

Mostly such clauses are aimed at keeping you from taking confidential or proprietary info to your next job. You want as short a time specified as possible and as narrow a list of companies you cannot work for.

Non-solicit clauses are to keep you from taking your best people with you if you leave. Also clients--you can't take them to your next job.

No-hire clauses prevent you from hiring people who have worked for competitors.

Invention assignment agreements require new hites to disclose things they invented before being hired. The new company cannot claim the patent developed at the old. From there, it becomes crazy complicated.

I would advise a lawyer--maybe Harvey Spector, Mike Ross, and the Good Wife rolled into one.

Monday, September 15, 2014

We don't need no stinkin' classrooms

Ana Campoy and Julia Harte, WSJ, Sept 8, 2104, says schools are breaking out of the classroom paradigm.

At a school in Texas, kids meet in coffee shops, parks, museums and galleries. This is a private school--sounds like one long field trip.

Critics say electronics don't substitute for a good teacher. But many schools combine the two. Or they hope the teacher is good.

Some experimental schools transmit the student and teacher faces to each other on a screen.

At one school, get this--they take public transit! Wow.

Once, in a museum, the kids tried to use their laptops to take notes and the staff went nuts--paper, paper.

I do remember helping my kid dissect an owl pellet at home because she was home with mono. It  was gross but kinda interesting at the same time--little mouse bones.

My question on this is what if these experiments don't "work" and the youngsters are snotty, wired, entitled little twits who can't add, subtract or read? Just write them off?

Friday, September 12, 2014

People, people--going broke on $200,000?

Veronica Dagher, WSJ, Sept 6-7, 2014, writes about people with a pretty big income who are still deeply in debt or going bankrupt.

You can still live beyond your means at six figures--no problem. One gal had a private chef, housekeeper, designer clothes, lavish trips on $200,000 and got $300,000 into her cards.  Didn't see that one coming, apparently.

Eventually she cut back, cooked for herself, moved to a cheaper place, and haunted thrift stores.

She got that $300,000 down to $40,000 and is still working on it.

Better to face facts, save for retirement, own and live in one house. This does not mean suffer--it can be a nice house.

Take action well before losing a job or retirement.

That means now.

I have had my issues with money, believe me. But money is a fact of life and we have to face it down.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The happiness boss

In the Sept issue of GovTech (www.govtech.com), we learn about Chief Happiness Officers--these are, of course, a creature of Silicon Valley.

They monitor the workplace's emotional well-being.

They advocate changes to promote worker happiness.

Google has a guy whose title is Jolly Good Fellow. Part of his job is to promote world peace.

Quite a job description.

Seriously--this is serious. These people get paid.

Where do I sign?

I recent read Gretchen Rubin's second book, Happier at Home, on how she tries to create happiness in her home and life. One thing she concluded is that she tends to work harder on things she likes.

Also she avoids things she does not like--travel, listening to music, pets, acupuncture, her kids coming in her home office without knocking, food, eating, the list is long..

One for The Big Book of Duh.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Even the smartest entrepreneurs screw up

Barbara Haslip, WSJ, Aug 25, 2014, writes about things some business people have done wrong--and what they learned.

One gal started without a business plan and sold 80% of her equity for "peanuts." The office space she chose was not near her clients.

Another lesson is don't forget your spouse. The business owner traveled, ate nice meals, talked to interesting people while his wife languished at home with the kiddies. He created more weekend outings for the family.

One guy was offering analysis but without working for a client company, he did not know they did not have time to read all that stuff.

Yet another man was so tight with a dollar he had to fix every piece of equipment in his restaurant--time waster.

The owner of a podiatric medical center had so many rules and benchmarks, his employees could not meet any of the. He learned not to sweat the small stuff.

Check on contractors--one woman hired one so busy he never came over.

Always be selling--not just creating to sell later.

I published a newsletter called CHEAP RELIEF for 14 yrs. Once, I offered a free issue in a magazine called FREEBIES--if people sent a stamped envelope. Thousands did--and it was weird--little one-cent stamps with kittens all over them, utility envelopes turned inside out and reused--and I got no subscribers even though I spent $150 to print all those issues. Inserting them in these envelopes hurt my shoulder there were so many--we called it my Freebie Shoulder.

Oh, yeah--it dawned. The magazine was called FREEBIES--they weren't going to PAY.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Your MBA student may try to tap you

Melissa Korn, WSJ, Sept 4, 2104, says many business students are going to the Bank of Mom and Dad for tuition so they will be able to be entrepreneurs.

Forty percent of those considering graduate business degrees! Those who got commercial loans owed an average of $42K.

Some consider it a gift, others say they will pay it back.

Women are more likely than men to have their parents involved.

Oh--and if parents kick in, they sort of consider this education a "we" thing and mix in.

Didn't you see that one coming, kids? How about you, parents? Are you going to second-guess the business or career choice just because you paid?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Don't get locked in

Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, Aug 27, 2014, talks about a woman who was so good at organizing customer service depts, she kept getting that job again and again. The "competency curse."

She even transferred to another location and another job, but soon was doing the same thing.

Finally she took a leadership program for women and decided to try to break out. She did a powerpoint of her experience, goals, strengths.

She tried to show the excitement of what lay ahead.

Eventually they found a new job for her--even though she was pregnant--she picked it up when she returned from leave.

Sounds easy. I am sure it was not. But you have to try sometimes.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sports jobs--fun and pay!

 CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists riff off on some sports-related jobs you might like.

No matter what happens, people like sports, go to games, eat statdium food and so on.

Jobs with sports teams and clubs...........Up 8.6%


Agents and managers..................................16/8%

Here are are some other categories:

Meeting and event planners
Audio Visual
Market research
Laborers--freight, stock
Public address--announcers
Radio and TV
Admin assts, medical, and executive
Janitors, cleaners
Amusement and recreation


Play ball!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stuff old people do that you should do

 The author, Jeff Havens, is a lecturer on leadership and generational issues--and looks so young in his picture, I doubt he knows much about creaking around as an old fogey.

But he does have some good ideas (meaning I agree with some).

First, use your phone to TALK sometimes. It's quicker and even more fun than tapping out 4-5 texts.

Stick with something for more than five minutes. It's relaxing to think about one thing at a time--you'll like it.

Write something longer than 4 sentences, Jeff advises.  Then you can't text.

Get a hobby. Your grandparents had those. Don't let your social media, softball league etc crowd out what you love--or maybe it's the softball you love. Cool.

Older people stop growing beards. I disagree with this!!! What is UP with those grizzled gray messes on men's faces--viz. Dave Ramsey and those duck people.

Older people also write thank you notes.

Don't be afraid to march to someone else's drummer sometimes.

We oldies probably do a  lot of nice and useful things--oh, I know--we have manners. We say "What?" when someone speaks to us. We respond to emails. We are pretty decent to our mothers if they are still around.

Manners may be retro, but they are nice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Gee, only money

MORE magazine has some ways people waste money. Check out September 2014.

Interest sucks--and can be as piddly as .08%. But you can find closer to 1% if you check around. That's $2760 on $60K every five yrs without compounding. Some interest-bearing checking accounts are higher than even a money market yield.

Yeah? I keep seeing I made one cent, etc.

You or your money manager make too many trades? Oh, my dear, the least active traders keep  more.

About those 401Ks--those fees can drain you. Go to FeeX.com to see how your fees stack up (or don't).

Also, can we talk about all those lattes?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

You apply--they ignore

I was leafing through MORE magazine--this is supposedly for ahem, older, women who still want more. Of what they don't say. One guess would be--cosmetics.

But they did have an article by Laura Sinberg on why employers don't respond to your applications. Could be, you are playing the game wrong.

First, Laura says, have a heading called WORK EXPERIENCE. Don't put ACHIEVEMENTS or something or the computer scanning will not recognize it.

Put the name of the companyou worked for before dates. NAME OF COMPANY, POSITION YOU HELD, DATES.

Use keywords from the ad--don't get creative because the computer won't.

If you went to a top tier school--even for a summer or continuing ed class--mention it.

Forget fancy formatting like boxes, shading, headers, conts. These confuse computers.

Try to get your res into human hands--so much nicer than electronic ones.